I'm often asked "Do I need an attorney for a divorce?" For some people the answer is probably not. If it's a short term marriage, there are no joint debts, no joint assets, no children and somebody understands the paperwork and the process to get the paperwork through the court, then you don't need an attorney. But for many people the answer is probably yes. There are lots of risks associated with representing yourself throughout a divorce.
One risk is maybe you don't understand the law. So you don't really understand the terms that are used, the things that are required, or the things that are not allowed. Maybe you don't understand the legal documents that are required to get the divorce through the process in the courts. Maybe you don't understand that actual process itself such as what steps happen first, what steps happen next, and how you proceed through the divorce process.
One of the biggest risks is that if you mess something up in that process, either the judge won't grant the divorce or the judge grants the divorce and you have all kinds of problems after the divorce that you can't change. An attorney knows those things and can help keep you out of trouble and get you through the process.
For example, if you make mistakes in a parenting plan your life can be awful after the divorce is over. And you'll just have to live with that unless you have to go back to court and actually modify it.
Maybe you don't understand retirement plans, How to divide that up can be tricky even for attorneys because you need a special court order to split up some retirement plans.
If you have a complicated financial situation then an attorney may have dealt with something similar in the past. The attorney may have some ideas for you on how to move forward and divide things up and how to get it through the court system.
If you're not sure what assets and debts your partner has an attorney knows the process to get that information.
Sometimes people are so emotional that they can't even think straight. Then they are likely to make mistakes. Or sometimes they're so eager to get a divorce done that they might need an attorney to slow things down. You really need to think about and investigate things to avoid making costly mistakes. Because there are things that once they're final in a divorce, they're final. You can not go back and change them.
And an attorney can be a buffer between you and your spouse if you can't talk or get along but you still need to exchange information, documents, or negotiate a resolution.
So really, it depends on your situation. Maybe you should have a consultation with an attorney, to discuss your particular issues and see if you do need an attorney.
If you would like more information check out my YouTube channel for other divorce and family law videos.
Nedra. K. Howard PC, a law firm where families matter.
Today I'll be talking about legitimation. I had a man come in to me, he was paying child support through the court system. The child had his last name and he was on the birth certificate, but the mother was not letting him see the child and he was completely frustrated. I had to tell him, "You know, right now, even though your name is on the birth certificate and the child has your last name, and you're paying child support, you have no legal rights to this child."
In Georgia, in order for a man who's not married to the mother of the child, to establish those rights, he has to file what's called, a legitimation action. Within the legitimation action, he can then establish custody, visitation, child support and, if he's not on the birth certificate, he can be added to the birth certificate, and he can have the child's last name changed to reflect his last name.
So in this case, we filed the legitimation action. We were not able to resolve things with the mother without having to go to court. We went to court and we had a trial. The father did establish his legal rights to the child, the child's legal rights to him and custody. He has joint custody. He now has a set visitation order, so that the mother can no longer frustrate him with that. And, in addition, we proved that the numbers used in the first child support order were not accurate and we were able to reduce his child support significantly. So he's a very happy father.
I hope this helps if you're in the same situation and you're looking at trying to end the frustration, get access to your child and establish legal rights.
Nedra K. Howard, P.C., a law firm where families matter.
Recently, I had a woman come in and ask me do I need a divorce? And the answer is that depends on her circumstances, what's going on in her life. An attorney can't really determine that.
So the first issue is what is a divorce? So a divorce is the legal dissolution of a marriage by a court. And that's just a fancy way of saying that the court is going to divide up the assets and the debts, figure out what to do about custody, child support and visitation, figure out if there's going to be any alimony and how the attorney's fees are going to be handled. So all of those are the issues within the divorce.
But what she actually came to me with was do I need a divorce? And that's a totally different issue. So we discussed things for a little while and I wanted her to think about things. She needed to think about, first of all, can the issues within her marriage be resolved without a divorce?
For example, if infidelity is the issue within the marriage, can the relationship be healed through counseling, whether it's individual counseling or family counseling, or self help books. If substance abuse is an issue, can a stint in rehab fix the situation? If there are mental health issues, will visits to the psychiatrist and some medication, determine what the issues are and fix the problem so that the marriage can be saved?
Other issues would be issues with child rearing. Are you able to handle all of the issues with regard to the child rearing on your own or with your family's support?
There are social issues to be considered. Are you going to be able to keep the friends that you have as couples when you're separated and/or divorced? Will you able to go to the same church? Will you be able to maintain family relationships on both sides of the marriage after the divorce?
There are financial issues that you need to think about. Can you maintain a lifestyle, even though it might be less, once you're divorced? Are you going to have access to credit once you're divorced? Is there credit in your name or is all of the credit tied up with your spouse's name? Will you be able to pay the debts that you have in your name or that you may have to assume? How are you going to pay for the attorney's fees to get you through a divorce?
So those are a lot of the issues that you'll need to figure out before you even decide whether to get a divorce.
And the main issue is if there is any kind of abuse, will the divorce be the proper vehicle for you to disentangle yourself safely?
So I gave her all of these things to think about and she went home and she will let me know if she does in fact need a divorce. And if you're facing the same issues, I hope that this gives you the things that you need to think about in making your determination as to whether or not you need a divorce.
Nedra K. Howard
Nedra has represented clients in matters relating to divorce, separate maintenance, child custody and support, family violence protective orders, adoption, prenuptial agreements, business disputes and litigation, personal injury, property damage, and wills.
John B. MIller & Associates, P.C.
16 Eastbrook Bend, Suite 201
Peachtree City, GA 30269
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770 - 863 - 8355